This month is fairly important one for many South Africans, as Easter weekend often means travelling to see family or spending time with loved ones. It’s also significant for another reason, as it’s a time of year when fraudulent activity and security risks spike, according to Visa.

“Consumers should not let their guard down this Easter period. Whether you are planning a family getaway or a relaxing long weekend at home, fraudsters will stop at nothing to get your personal information and card data,” warns the financial services firm.

In fact Visa believes the trend of rising fraudulent credit card activities is expected to continue over the coming years.

Keeping vigilant 

In order for local consumers to be better prepared during Easter weekend, and in general, Visa has identified five risks in particular that they need to be on the look out for.

The first is quite common, but nonetheless difficult to spot at times – shoulder scamming. Visa says that this specific activity happens at ATMs, with pairs often working to watch the hand movements of someone at a machine in order to get their card’s pin code.

“Simple ways that you can safeguard against prying eyes includes hiding your pin, standing as close to the ATM as possible and never revealing your pin to anybody,” explains the firm.

The next risk is also quite common here in SA, and happens frequently at ATMs as well – card swapping.

“Usually the victim’s card will be stuck in an ATM, only to be rescued by a nearby ‘good’ Samaritan. This fraudster will assist by cancelling the transaction, and once the card is ejected, have the perfect opportunity to make the swop,” says Visa.

“Once again, preventative measures include the need to pay attention to your surroundings, don’t trust strangers that offer their assistance and report any unusual behaviours to your bank,” they add.

Another risk is South African consumers’ desire to use cash over cards.

“Within South Africa, there is still more trust placed on physical cash over electronic payments. Despite this, according to SABRIC, bank client cash losses for 2018 from January to June amounted to just over R21 million,” notes Visa.

Victims for this type of risk are often followed by criminals once they’ve exited a bank branch, or finished withdrawing money from an ATM.

As such Visa advises going the electronic payment route with their card wherever possible, as it lessens the chance of being robbed for cash.

While cards are safer bets than carrying around a lot of cash, it still is not without its problems. This brings us to the fourth risk – card skimming.

It’s something that also occurs frequently in SA, but Visa says it’s phasing out some of its legacy payment options, i.e. using a card’s magnetic strip. This has been replaced by chips (cryptograms) for the most part, and now tap-and-go is becoming a far more popular option as it grants the consumer more control.

Needless to say that if a retailer wants to take your card elsewhere to facilitate payments, you should be very wary.

The final risk pertains to online payments, as consumers are less knowledgable in this space than the physical retail one.

In order to safeguard themselves, Visa says need to be aware of a handful of things.

Only surf on validated websites and do not give your personal card details over the phone. Refrain from opening emails and attachments or clicking on links from people who you don’t know. And lastly turn on transaction controls and alerts on your mobile banking app for your card payments.

While all of the above advice may seem like something that consumers should be innately aware of, it’s far from the case. As such a higher level of awareness is needed in general when transacting, and especially so during festive or holiday periods like Easter.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]